A just-released survey on resident attitudes and participation in the arts finds that nearly every adult in the City of Santa Monica participates in cultural activities in some manner.
Santa Monica residents are far more likely to participate in cultural events than the average American, and have a sophisticated understanding of the benefits of a vibrant cultural community, according to the survey.
“Santa Monica’s residents not only have an intensive relationship with the arts and culture, they also have a sophisticated perspective on their role and value in the community,” says Cultural Affairs Division manager Jessica Cusick.
“The percentage of community members with a strong connection to the arts is off the charts in comparison to any of the communities I have worked in,” adds consultant David Plettner.
The research effort is part of the seven-month long information gathering endeavor by the city’s Cultural Affairs Division for the community’s new cultural plan, Creative Capital, intended to guide the development of Santa Monica’s cultural life over the next ten years.
A tool in this process was a telephone survey of adult residents of the city designed to explore attitudes about issues related to the arts in Santa Monica.
With a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent, this survey revealed statistics city officials say are remarkable.
Goodwin Simon Victoria Research, a Southern California firm, conducted telephone interviews with 492 Santa Monica residents between August 6th and 30th.
The study concluded that Santa Monicans attend concerts (82 percent), visit art galleries (83 percent), go to museums (61 percent), see plays (69 percent) and participate in festivals (69 percent) far more than the average American citizen.
A large number of residents partake of the city’s local cultural offerings such as the Twilight Dance Series (48 percent), concerts at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (43 percent), Bergamot Station (45 percent), Santa Monica Museum of Art (36 percent) and local live theatres (35 percent).
The survey also discovered that Santa Monica has a high percentage (43 percent) of the population actually working in the arts for all or part of their living — higher than San Francisco, Chicago or New York City.
Of these, writers and visual artists each make up 20 percent of the population, another 16 percent work in design, 13 percent work in the film and television industry, ten percent are musicians and seven percent are dancers.
Nearly 90 percent of the residents say that Santa Monica’s arts scene is important and they appreciate the high ratio of creative people and creative businesses in the city and are proud of the public art collection.
A strong majority says that Santa Monica’s cultural community is a key element in making the city interesting and a better place to raise children.
The survey demonstrates that when it comes to the arts, Santa Monica is an enlightened community.
Residents recognize and appreciate what the arts do for the community and want even more cultural opportunities.
Concepts that were favored in the survey include a large venue for theater or concerts, additional public art and cultural festivals, more small music venues and theaters, a major art museum and more galleries.
Findings of the Survey on the Arts say that:
– 99 percent participate in at least one cultural activity per year;
– 90 percent find it important to have art in public places in the city;
– 89 percent believe that Santa Monica’s arts and culture scene makes the city a better place to raise their children;
– 86 percent think having creative businesses in the community is important;
– 83 percent have visited a museum or art gallery in the last year;
– 82 percent found the idea of a large theater in the city very appealing;
– 80 percent would like to have more small music venues in the city;
– 79 percent give a positive rating to the city’s public art collection;
– 73 percent would like to see a major art museum in Santa Monica;
– 69 percent have attended a community festival in the last two years;
– 66 percent say that the city’s arts and cultural scene is very important in making the city an interesting place to live;
– 60 percent see after-school arts activities as a positive alternative for youth at risk of falling behind academically or economically;
– 57 percent believe the arts are important to the city’s economy;
– 48 percent of parents say their children play a musical instrument; and
– 43 percent make all or part of their living from arts or cultural activities.
The City of Santa Monica will announce in late October the results of a separate study analyzing Santa Monica’s creative sector, including a comparison of Santa Monica’s creative workforce to the 20 cities in the nation most strongly identified as arts and cultural centers.
The city will host a community workshop to present the cultural plan recommendations 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 8th, at the Santa Monica Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.
Cultural Affairs Division staff will also be making presentations to local neighborhood organizations and other community groups.
Creative Capital information, visit the Web site at smgov.net /creativesantamonica or Jessica Cusick, (310) 458-8350.